Photography Tips: 5 Reasons to Own a Zoom Lens

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Zoom Lens
Zoom Lens

Zoom lens usually consists of one focus ring and one zoom ring, and the focal length indicator as shown above. The lens above is the Sony Zeiss FE 2470mm zoom lens.

We talked about the reasons to own a prime lens in the last post — 5 Reasons to Own a Prime Lens, but that does not mean that zoom lens is useless. Today I’m going to tell you why should we get a zoom lens as well.

1. Convenience

Would you like to bring along your whole prime lens collection that cover from 24 mm to 200mm (can be 5 to 7 lenses) when you are travelling? Or you prefer to travel in lightweight and enjoy your trip? If that is the case, something like 24-105mm standard zoom or 18-200 mm full range zoom is practically more convenience in travelling. Of course, I assumed you did not take the constant F 2.8 cannon-size zoom lens into account.

2. Never Miss a Shot

It is more likely to hear those “in-heart wishes” from prime lens users than zoom lens users, like ” I wish I did bring along my xx mm prime lens to get that shot”. Using a full range zoom 18 -200 mm or standard zoom like 24 -70 mm or 24 – 105 mm can greatly reduce the chance to miss “that shot”.

But if you still missed that shot because you were using a 10 -18 mm zoom lens to shoot birds/athlete in sport games…. don’t tell people that I told you that you will never miss a shot using a zoom lens 😉

3. Image Stabiliser

We should always bring along our tripod when we are shooting, but how about those events/places that do not allow us to set-up a tripod? An image stabiliser can save our life here because it allows us to shoot at 3 – 4 stops slower shutter speed.

Zoom Lens with Image Stabilizer (Optical Steady Shot)
Zoom Lens with Image Stabilizer (Optical Steady Shot)

Zoom lens usually comes with an effective image stabiliser for us to shoot hand-held for its telephoto side (105 mm, 200 mm or longer), and the great things is the image stabiliser also applicable to its wide angle (24 mm, 35 mm) as well.

Of course, those medium- to long-focal prime lenses (85 mm, 105 mm, 200 mm) also comes with image stabiliser but it is rarely found in those wide angle prime lenses (24 mm, 35 mm, 50 mm). This is because the manufacturers believe that image stabiliser in wide-angle lens is not as effective as it is in the telephoto lens.

Therefore, the wide-angle focal-length of zoom lens share the benefits of the image stabiliser so that we can easily get a blur-free shot at fraction of second when shooting at its wide-angle.

4. Need for Speed

What is the best way when you need to switch the focal length from 200 mm to 16 mm within seconds? It is using two different lenses (a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens) on two camera and then switch them!

However, the guys who are capable to do this are those professional event photographers or rich photography amateurs. For us, use the zoom lens is the most cost effective and more practical.

5. Special Zooming Effect

If the prime lens has the creamy bokeh effect that normal zoom lens cannot easily produce, then what does the zoom lens has?

Smooth Zoom Effect
Smooth Zoom Effect

That’s definitely the smooth zoom effect! Same as bokeh, smooth zooming effect is not impossible to produce by prime lens, but using zoom lens can be easier and produce better result. First mount your camera on a tripod because you are going to set your shutter speed manually to few full seconds,  press your shutter button and zoom your lens slowly and constantly.

Take a note here, some electronic zoom lenses and point-and-shoot cameras are not able to change the focal length when the aperture is remained open.

Bottom Line

Although zoom lenses does not have a fast enough aperture as prime lens (F 2.8 vs F 1.2) or produce the best optical performance, but it is more convenience and easier to use than a prime lens. Besides, by the advanced of current technology, some good quality zoom lenses are capable to produce stunning optical result that is hardly differentiated from the prime lens even we compared side-by-side.

If you need to travel in lightweight, need fast respond to change focal length during the event shooting, then a zoom lens is your first choice. Try to get a constant aperture zoom lens, constant F 4 zoom lens is a good start point because it is way cheaper, lighter, and smaller than a constant F 2.8 zoom lens while it remains the largest F 4 at its telephoto end which you will appreciate much.

That’s all for today. Thank you for your reading and hope you like it.


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